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Gulf oil spill: New face for BP disaster works Washington

June 24, 2010 |  6:56 pm

BP’s new public face, Bob Dudley, was in Washington on Thursday to meet with Obama administration officials to reassure them of the company’s "long-term commitment" to cleaning up and restoring the Gulf Coast.

"I’m in the process now of listening a lot to find out what people think needs to be done better," said Dudley, the company’s U.S.-born managing director who took over BP’s day-to-day operations from the embattled Chief Executive Tony Hayward. "In just 48 hours of traveling around, I’ve heard many things that I think we can improve on." 

The company is exploring the use of blimps to help spot oil slicks, for example.

Dudley said the company was back to recovering about 25,000 barrels of oil a day, and additional measures are planned to try to increase the amount. He said the relief well is progressing. "I’m confident that by the end of August, we’ll have that well killed," he said.

The company, he said, has received more than 100,000 suggestions "on things we can do."

In a meeting with Washington reporters at the offices of BP’s PR firm, Dudley was asked whether he would be better prepared to answer questions than Hayward in an appearance before Congress.

Dudley, saying that he has been focused on "forward-looking," said that he hadn’t even read BP’s internal investigation of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion. "No, I would not be an informed witness of any kind," he said. But he also noted that multiple investigations are still underway. "I have this feeling that there’s lot more yet to be learned," he said.

"We can understand why the nation is angry with BP," he said.  "As long as we maintain the commitment and the perseverance of the people who work for BP.… I hope the world someday will recognize the incredible response of the company in the United States.’’

He said he also was consulting former Federal Emergency Management Agency Director James Lee Witt, regarded as a master of disaster management.

-- Richard Simon, in Washington
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